Mohammad Nizar was pleasantly surprised when he found out he had a first ride for trainer Shane Baertschiger this Sunday, Lincoln Moonlight.
The local apprentice jockey was even more pleased when that unexpected booking turned into his second win for the year.
Trainer Saimee Jumaat’s protégé only made his riding debut in July last year, acquitting himself well with two winners – Silent Arrow and Just Landed, both for his master – from limited opportunities.
This year, support has not been any more forthcoming, but Nizar was still able to eke out one win aboard the Mark Walker-trained Man Of Mystery on July 12.
Baertschiger was looking for a four-kilo claimer after the handicapper slapped the steadier of 60kgs onto Lincoln Moonlight, who was still chasing that elusive first win in eight starts, albeit five times third in Restricted Maiden races against handy sorts like Revolution, Mach, Ararat Lady, Street Party and Charming Diamond.
The Australian handler, who does not have any apprentice jockey attached to his yard, picked Nizar for the job, with the maiden combination getting lucky at their very first time of asking in Sunday’s $20,000 Magneto 2014 Stakes, a Maiden race over 1100m.
Taking a drop off the eye-balling pair of Mr Alfonso and Lord Of Light, Lincoln Moonlight was still full of running upon straightening, and looming large as the eventual winner.
As half-expected, the duelling pair were left rooted to the spot when the Alamosa four-year-old sprinted on by, skipping clear for a dominant three-and-a-half length win from Mr Alfonso with Make U Famous third another short head away.
The winning time was 1min 6.5secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack.
“It’s my wife who saw the card first and told me I was booked on Mr Baertschiger’s horse. I was surprised as he’s never put me on his horses before,” said Nizar, a former graduate of the Singapore Training Academy for Racing (STAR) apprentice jockey programme.
“I watched his (Lincoln Moonlight’s) race replays and I saw he can run on nicely. I was lucky to be the one riding him today.
“He was always travelling relaxed, he can take the speed and he finished off very well.”
Baertschiger said he had always thought Nizar wasn’t without ability, but he just needed the opportunities – and Lincoln Moonlight was just that perfect leg-up.
“He was due for a win. He had the four-kilo claim, blinkers back on, and if you look at his past runs, he’s always raced in much better company than these,” he said.
“But I just needed a good four-kilo claimer and Nizar sure can ride. I told him in the mounting yard the horse had a good chance, he rode him one-out one-back and it worked out just nice.”
The New Zealand-based Lincoln Farms Stable might have picked up a cheque worth only around S$12,000 for the win, but with his previous record of five thirds, his total haul has already shot past the $$50,000 mark. -STC